rice

Our friend John prepared this dish for us long ago. Completely delighted, I meant to ask for the recipe but kept forgetting. The southeast Asian mix of fresh garlic, fish sauce, lime juice, sugar and chili pepper is divine.

southeast Asian-style shrimp and Persian cucumber with rice

southeast Asian-style shrimp and Persian cucumber with rice

Recently I was craving it so I decided to take the risk of making/mixing my own sauce. I may have made it a bit Japanese with the addition of mirin and rice vinegar for an extra bit of sweetness and tartness. You know rice just goes so well with these two flavors, right?

Another thing I find makes me eat with gusto is atypical use of cucumber, here served in a warm dish. I grew up eating cucumbers only in salads so enjoying them any other way is incredible. The cukes were warm but still crunchy. I think Persian or Japanese cucumbers work best for this dish.

southeast Asian-style shrimp and Persian cucumber with rice

1½ cups rice (Thai Jasmine, Basmati or Spanish)
4 tbsp olive oil
1 lb wild caught shelled and deveined medium sized shrimp
6 Persian cucumbers
sea salt
1 clove of garlic
Chili pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper

sauce:

juice of 5 large limes
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 clove garlic
1 green or red chili pepper seeds partially removed
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp mirin
2 tbsp chopped cilantro leaves

Heat olive oil in a large pan, add rice and a sprinkle of salt. Toss to coat rice with oil. Add 2 and ½ cups of hot water. Bring to a boil, stir, reduce temperature to low, cover pan and cook for about 15-20 minutes until soft and water absorbed. Removed from heat and keep it covered for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut a ¼ inch top of the cucumber and rub cut sides together for good luck and good flavor. This will create a bit of a gooey slime that you should rinse away in cold water. Cut cucumber into ½ inch disks and soak in cold water. Repeat process for remainder.

Turn oven on to broil. Rinse and pat dry shrimp. Toss with juice of ½ lime, salt, chili flakes and one garlic clove that has been crushed. Spread shrimp loosely on a large baking sheet then broil for about 5 minutes or so. Remove from the oven and let rest. For a delicious charred flavor and lovely grill marks use your outdoor grill.

To make the sauce, put garlic, sugar and pepper in a mortar and grind ingredients to a paste. Transfer to a bowl. Add lemon juice, mirin, fish sauce, soy sauce and cilantro. Toss to combine. This sauce should be salty, sweet, sour, and pungent with a spicy kick. Taste and adjust flavor with more of any of the ingredients. If you find my mix to strong you can dilute it with a bit of cold water. You should have around ¾ to 1 cup of sauce.

Drain cucumber slices and pat dry on a dish towel.

Mix rice, cucumber, shrimp and shrimp juices carefully not to break the rice too much. Drizzle most of the sauce over and carefully give it another toss. Taste and add more sauce if needed.

This is a delightful, simple, and chock full of flavor meal.

{ 4 comments }

vegetable paella

by Heguiberto on July 10, 2013

Yottam Ottolenghi’s Plenty attacks again! His vegetable paella is divine. It is full of color and flavors. If pilaf and paella have the same linguistic root, then I think this vegetable paella must be either an early progenitor of both or perhaps the modern trans-national child of the pair, as it not only uses saffron threads, but also turmeric and chili powders common to Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines: incredible! And then there’s the sherry… Wow.

vegetable paella

vegetable paella

Yotam recommends using Calasparra rice but to be honest I have never heard of it before, so couldn’t even begin to think of where to find it. At any given time my rice pantry will always have few different varieties, so I made do with what I had. My choice was Thai jasmine rice. I selected this kind because I’ve made successful paella before with it. He also recommends using freshly shelled fava beans which would have been great but I was not able to find them in the market. Instead I substituted them for a fresh frozen shelled bag of edamame.

This dish is vegetarian and vegan. So flavorful, your meat eating loved ones will enjoy it too.

vegetable paella

6 tbsp olive oil
1 medium Vidalia onion sliced thinly
1 red pepper cut into strips
1 yellow pepper cut into strips
½ fennel bulb cut into thin strips
4 garlic cloves crushed
2 fresh bay leaves
½ tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp sweet paprika
½ tsp ground turmeric
½ tsp chili powder (cayenne)
¾ cup sherry
1 container of saffron threads (0.020oz)
2 cups Thai Jasmine rice
3 ½ cups vegetable stock – hot
thin half-moon-shaped lemon slices
4 tbsp julienned sundried tomatoes packed in oil, drained
8 halves of grilled artichokes, preserved in oil, drained
¾ cup pitted Kalamata olives, halved
1 pint of mixed small heirloom tomatoes, halved
~ 2tbsp chopped parsley
Kosher salt

You need a paella pan or a similar large shallow pan for the dish. On high heat, add olive oil followed by the onions and cook until translucent, about 5 to 8 minutes. Lower the heat to medium, add sweet peppers and fennel and continue cooking for about 10 minutes. Peppers and fennel will soften a bit but still hold their crunch.

Mix in turmeric, bay leaves, paprika. Add rice and mix it again so rice gets some coloring. Stir in saffron and sherry, continue to cook long enough for the sherry juices to be absorbed/evaporated. Add vegetable stock, and kosher salt to taste, lower the temperature and cook for about 18 minutes. Liquid will be almost fully absorbed by the rice. To prevent the rice from breaking refrain from stirring while cooking. Turn off the heat.

Tuck in olives, artichokes, sundried tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, lemon slices, then sprinkle with parsley. Let rest, covered, for about 5 minutes. Remove the lid, drizzle with some extra virgin oil and serve.

{ 6 comments }

vegetarian bi-bim-bap

by Heguiberto on December 2, 2011

I’ve wanted to make bi-bim-bap at home forever but have always been put off by the amount of work involved. All that chopping, individually cooking everything then assembling the dish seemed monstrously time-consuming and a bit annoying. The bi-bim-baps I’ve had at Korean restaurants are all served in one of those really hot stone pots (dolsot). Often you just crack a raw egg over the dish, mix all the lovely ingredients together and enjoy. The egg cooks perfectly in the hot pot and the rice at the bottom forms this marvelous toasted crust of which I’m particularly fond. Delicious!

colorful and flavorful vegetarian bi-bim-bap

colorful and flavorful vegetarian bi-bim-bap

I remember as a kid every now and then my mother would burn her rice and get super upset about it. What to her was a disaster to me was a treat because I loved eating the slightly burned and smoky crust. Anytime I eat bi-bim-bap I feel that there is somehow a bit of Brazil in the dish.

I regard bi-bim-bap as a version of paella or pilaf. All of them are rice dishes mixed together with other ingredients. Here are some other recipes for it: here, here and here.

fern brake

fern brake

My dish calls for what to me is a novel ingredient, fern brakes. I found these dried and rehydrated at my local Korean market. I bought both types but since they need to soak overnight, I used the rehydrated ones. They have a lovely tea-like aroma and mild flavor, somewhat like subtle fiddlehead ferns.

To make this vegan, simply leave off the eggs.

vegetarian bi-bim-bap

1½ cups Thai Jasmine rice
3 small zucchinis – julienned with a bit of salt sprinkled over
2 medium carrots – julienned
1 cup broccoli florets
2 bunch spinach
3 eggs
½ red bell pepper – julienned
½ orange bell pepper – julienned
1 container brown beech mushroom
1 cup of soy bean sprouts (nato sprouts)
1 cup fern brakes
1lb firm tofu cubed
8 cloves garlic minced/smashed
2 heaping tbsp Gochujang hot pepper paste
3 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp soy sauce
olive oil
toasted sesame seed oil
sea salt

To make the rice:

Add 1 tbsp olive oil to a saucepan on temperature high. Add rice and give it a good stir. Add 2½ cups of water, stir again. Bring to a boil, stir again. Reduce heat to simmer for about 15 minutes, until water has been absorbed. Remove from heat let it rest, lid on for another 15 minutes.

To prepare veggies:

slicing all the veggies for vegetarian bi-bim-bap

slicing all the veggies for vegetarian bi-bim-bap

All veggies must be cooked separately.

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Drop in broccoli florets and cook for a minute or so. Transfer to a bowl.

Drop in spinach and let it blanch for a minute or so, transfer to a colander, allow it to cool down a bit. Squeeze to remove as much water as possible.

Using the same saucepan add soybean sprouts and a dash of salt and cook for 10-12 minutes. Strain and squeeze to remove water.

Add 1 tsp of olive oil to a skillet, 2 cloves of garlic minced and sauté until aromatic. Add bean sprouts and cook for few minutes. Season with one tablespoon of soy sauce and ½ tsp sesame oil. Set aside.

Wipe skillet and return to burner. Add 1 tbsp olive oil, 2 garlic cloves minced and mushrooms. Sauté mushrooms on high heat for a couple of minutes. Sprinkle with some salt, cover the pan and let the mushrooms sweat. Set aside.

Wipe Skillet with a paper towel. Add ½ tsp of olive oil, 1 clove of minced garlic and sauté. Add spinach and cook for another minute, season with 1 tsp of soy sauce. Set aside.

Wipe skillet off again. Add ¼ tsp olive oil. Drain zucchini; add to skillet and sauté for 1 minute. Set aside.

Repeat process, this time with no oil with peppers and carrots.

Return skillet to stove. Add 1 tsp of olive oil, 2 cloves of garlic minced, cook until aromatic. Drop in fern brakes and sauté for a couple of minutes, towards the end add 1 tbsp soy sauce and 1 tsp of sesame oil. Set aside.

layering some of the veggies over the rice

layering some of the veggies over the rice

adding the soy bean sprouts to the bi-bim-bap

adding the soy bean sprouts to the bi-bim-bap

To prepare pepper sauce:

Meanwhile, mix rice wine vinegar, 3 cloves of garlic minced and Goshujang pepper paste together. Once all mixed it should have the consistency ketchup. Taste it and adjust flavors if necessary. Look for spice, sweet, umami and sour flavors. The paste will be used as a condiment to the Bibimbap at the table.

To assemble dish:

Add a few drops of sesame oil to a non stick paella pan. Using a paper towel rub oil all over its surface including border. Add cooked rice and press with a spatula, making sure the surface and borders are filled. Cover, bring temperature to high and cook for about 10 minutes. This is where rice develops the smoky, brown, nutty slightly burned crust.

Time to assemble the dish! Place cubed tofu in the center over the toasted rice; arrange mounds of each of the ingredients interchangeably along the border, forming a kind of flower pattern. Cover and let it warm through. Serve with fried egg sunny side up and dollops of Goshujang sauce on top of everything. The flavors are out of this world!

rewarming everything before serving

rewarming everything before serving

You can serve this dish with banchans, or side dishes, like pickled cucumbers or/and kimchi. I was going to serve both but forgot to bring the kimchi to the table.

{ 4 comments }

Japanese natto beans and rice

by Heguiberto on September 26, 2011

I’ve had natto at sushi restaurants before, but never dared using this ingredient at home for a very simple reason: natto stinks, and not exactly in a good way, though it tastes perfectly good when served in my maki rolls. So I have to confess that I’ve been natto-curious. Last week while shopping at Nijiya in the Japan Center I overcame my hesitation and trifling anxiety, and got some to prepare at home. Like most Brazilians, I love rice and beans, which was my inspiration here: Tokyo meets São Paulo.

Japanese natto beans and rice

Japanese natto beans and rice

Natto is a healthy processed soybean product, quite unlike tofu or soy sauce. Made of steamed soybeans that get mixed with a starter, natto-kin (bacillus subtilis natto), and left to ferment at a controlled temperature for a few days, the beans evolve into a slimy, sticky consistency with a pungent and nutty flavor. You can use it in soups, toast, noodles or rice. It adds an exciting layer of complex flavors to the dish. Behold the power of fermented foods! I am going to try making natto at home from scratch sometime. Follow this link to make natto.

Store-bought is a breeze though, and undoubtedly less time-consuming. To make natto beans and rice, really all you must do is cook the rice. The rest of the ingredients merely need assemblage.

my pre-made natto

my pre-made natto

Japanese natto beans and rice

1 cup Japanese sushi rice
1¾ cups water
1 tbsp olive oil
½ tsp kosher salt
½ tbsp rice vinegar
1 portion of natto
1 tbsp soy sauce
¼ tsp chili garlic paste
1 whole scallion, chopped fine
Strands of toasted nori (dried seaweed/sea vegetable)

Place rice, water, olive oil, salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, stir to prevent sticking. Reduce temperature to low, cover and cook until water is absorbed. Remove from heat, keep lid on for 5 to 10 minutes. Carefully stir vinegar in.

Meanwhile transfer natto to a bowl and stir it with a wooden spoon for 5-10 minutes. It will form a white stringy, marshmallow like thread around the beans. Worry not, that’s what it is supposed to look like. Stir in soy sauce, and scallions. Plate individual portions of rice, spoon with some natto over it and top with nori.

I served this dish with green acorn squash and sautéed shitake mushroom. It was a nice and unusual way of eating rice and beans. There will be more!

You can see other ways of eating natto in this informative video:

{ 5 comments }

stuffed cabbage drama

by Heguiberto on July 28, 2009

Stuffed cabbage is another great dish that is a result of the cultural confluence of some East European countries and Asia Minor. Aleks prepared it for our Macedonian parté recently. I believe that in this dish Europe is represented by the preserved cabbage and Asia by the rice. The blending of cultures is so romantic! I really love it.

stuffed cabbage Macedonian style

stuffed cabbage Macedonian style

It was a bit of a pain to make not only because it is labor intensive but also because it requires a lot of whole preserved cabbage leaves. We only found one jar of whole leaves after much peregrination through stores specialized in Eastern European and Middle Eastern foods. John and Aleks looked in the East Bay and Steven and I here in San Francisco. Are these a seasonal product or what? I thought that the whole point of preserving the cabbage was to make it available later in the year!?!

Well I must confess I enjoy the task of searching for obscure ingredients. It is such a joy when you finally find them, even when you realize that you can only take a bit home. It’s sort of a challenge. This time we were not the lucky ones. I think we exchanged at least half a dozen emails with the East Bay-ers, not to mention phone calls, on the subject of the “cabbage DRAMA.” How could we make this dish without the essential ingredient?
Stuffed cabbage goes by various aliases, depending on the country where it’s made. In Macedonia it’s called Sarma; in Turkey, Domae; in Poland, Golumpki. Here in the Bay Area it should probably be called Cabbage Drama, which rhymes with Sarma which gets us back to the Macedonian party! Yeah!!

Stuffed Cabbage Drama

Here’s the recipe:

this is the cabbage that we used

this is the cabbage that we used

2 cup of rice, mixed brown and white long grain
1 can (8 to 12oz) of fire roasted tomatoes in chunks with juices
1 cup of pine nuts
2 small chopped onions
1 tbsp smoked paprika (Hungarian)
1 can preserved cabbage with its juice (whole leaves)
1 can preserved cabbage cut up
Salt and fresh black pepper
3 tbsp olive oil

How to:

Sauté onions in olive oil on medium heat till opaque in color. Add rice, pine nuts, paprika, salt and black pepper and stir. Add tomatoes. Cook on low heat till juices are absorbed. Rice will be 1/3 of the way cooked. Turn heat off. Let cool a bit, so you can handle the rice to stuff the cabbage.

Place a thin layer of cut preserved cabbage at the bottom of a pressure cooker. Drizzle some olive oil over it. Make the Cabbage Drama by stuffing each leaf with a portion of the rice mix. Place rolls tightly together at the bottom of the pan. You can pile them a bit if necessary. Partially submerge the rolls with juices from cabbage brine. Cover cooker.

Turn the heat to max, wait for 4 whistles of your pressure cooker, turn temp to low and cook for about 5-8 min. The rice will swell inside the cabbage, absorb most of the juices and hold everything together. Bon apétit!

Note: taste brine before using in the recipe. If it’s too salty use less of it and top up the pressure cooker with good ol’water.

Related Posts with Thumbnails

{ 0 comments }